Give to the people a Parliament of their choosing

Never has Samoa’s Constitution been trampled on and incongruously bent out of shape in the country’s 59-year history as a nation until recently.

And it had to take the latter part of the Human Rights Protection Party’s 40-year rule to expose the true nature of Samoa’s current crop of leaders. 

Following the Supreme Court judgements last Monday and subsequently the Appellate Court taking carriage of the appeal by the Office of the Electoral Commission and Aliimalemanu Alofa Tuuau, in her bid to become the country’s sixth woman Member-elect, the Head of State unleashed, yet again, another proclamation firestorm late Saturday evening.

His Highness, Tuimaleali’ifano Vaaletoa Sualauvi II, in another bizarre late night proclamation, overturned the writ he issued on Friday for the convening of the XVII Parliament on Monday and indefinitely suspended the sitting which would have ushered in new legislators.

“I Tuimalealiifano Vaaletoa Sualauvi II, Head of State pursuant to my authority as the Head of State of Samoa, including Article 52 of the Constitution of the Independent State of Samoa, I hereby suspend my proclamation for the official opening of the XVIIth Parliament dated 20 May, 2021 until such time as to be announced and for reasons that I will make known in due course," his Saturday night proclamation read. 

The people’s hopes for a speedy conclusion to Samoa’s very own version of the Game of Thrones were quashed by the Head of State.

But did anyone realise that the Head of State – himself a lawyer and a member of the Samoa Law Society – committed the cardinal sin by allegedly failing to ‘uphold the rule of law’ as explicitly highlighted in the Lawyers and Legal Practice Act 2014 governing the conduct of all lawyers in Samoa?

Surely these are grounds for the Samoa Law Society’s consideration of misconduct charges after the dust settles, in light of the lawyer-turned Head of State continuing to bring the profession into disrepute through his decisions and actions.

We are shocked by his blatant disregard of Court rulings and the increasing tendency to make official proclamations late in the night when the nation is about to retire. So is the nation at war to warrant the covert-type operation? No. 

Is our democracy safe? No, it’s not and right now it hangs by a thread, due to publicly-appointed officials who the people gave the mandate to protect the Constitution, sadly choosing to abrogate it and in the process flout the rule of law.

On Sunday morning the Supreme Court bench had to preside over another urgent application filed by the Fa’atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) party, following the Head of State’s overnight proclamation that indefinitely suspended the convening of the Parliament on Monday.

And the Court after hearing submissions then ruled that the overnight proclamation was “unlawful”, which subsequently gave the greenlight for the Parliament to convene for the swearing-in of new MPs.

We commend the Chief Justice, His Honour Satiu Sativa Perese and the Supreme Court Justices for continuing to stand up for the Constitution against leaders who continue to test its limits, and have shown in the last week that they don’t care about the rule of law and Samoa’s democratic foundations. 

You have lived up to your mandate as the guardians of the Constitution and this nation of 198,000 people is in debt to you.

Our journey as a democracy continues to evolve, and while the country appears to be at its lowest ebb at this juncture, the public continues to watch with grave concern how senior officials and public servants allow themselves to become pawns in desperate politicians’ chess games.

It seems the Attorney General, Savalenoa Mareva Betham-Annandale has a problem trying to define what a constitutional crisis really entails, when through her actions in Court in the last week showed disdain for Court processes and was consequently put on notice by the Chief Justice.

It has become pretty obvious that Savalenoa doesn’t represent the interests of the people of Samoa. 

Her conduct in the urgent hearing on Sunday – where she refused to be served court documents because it was a Sunday, amidst a constitutional crisis which has gripped the nation for over a month and frustrated thousands of voters – shows immaturity of the highest order and unbecoming of a chief government legal advisor.

The Attorney General will need to revisit her office’s records because the dispensation of justice has even occurred on Sundays in previous years.

She too should come under the scrutiny of the Samoa Law Society for bringing the profession into disrepute.

So who are the kings and queens of this chess game that continues to gain notoriety by the day for inconveniencing everyone’s lives in this beautiful nation of fishermen and fa’i and talo farmers by refusing to concede defeat?

Only six months ago America’s 45th President Donald J. Trump shocked the world when he refused to concede defeat to Democrat’s Joe Biden in the 2020 U.S. Presidential Elections.

He falsely claimed that the elections were rigged and refused to accept a peaceful transfer of power.

Does the caretaker Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi want to be seen in the same light as the disgraced American leader and is this the legacy he wants generations of Samoans to remember him for after over two decades as Prime Minister?

If the caretaker Prime Minister hasn't realised it yet, his actions in recent days in refusing to concede defeat to allow the rule of law to take its course, has unwound all the good work his administration has done in recent years in terms of being the beacon of the Pacific. 

However every new day marks another opportunity to rise and get on with the business of nation building and Monday offers a fresh start for the nation and the swearing-in of the XVII Legislative Assembly that the voters yearn for after weeks of confusion, anger and frustration.

As a leader, it is incumbent upon the caretaker Prime Minister and his standing in the nation to give to the people what they deserve, in line with the Constitution and the rule of law which has held Samoa steadfast as a nation for 59 years. 

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